The New Age Wolves Are Here

by Kyle Ratke
Web Editor
@Kyle_Ratke

This is a new age of Timberwolves basketball.

Things we haven’t seen in quite some time will be seen. Alley-oops. Two-way players. Players with boatloads of potential. It’s an exciting time in Wolves Nation.

Normally when a team gets rid of an All-Star, things are grim. That’s quite the opposite across Minnesota today after the Wolves announced they had traded Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a three-team deal. Minnesota acquired two No.1  picks in Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, along with underrated veteran Thaddeus Young.

Head coach and President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders deserves credit. This offseason, he was dealt a pretty difficult hand. His All-Star power forward Kevin Love made it obvious that he did not want to be in Minnesota.

Okay.

Saunders waited. Told reporters that he would wait until he found a deal that made sense short-term and long-term. And if he didn’t find that deal, Love would remain in Minnesota. Saunders was patient. His patience paid off and he made a blockbuster deal. It would be silly to announce the Wolves the “winners” of the trade. We won’t know that for quite some time, but people seem to have come to agreement that the Wolves did very, very well for themselves in this scenario.

“We had a vision of what we were trying to do with our team and as I said from the beginning we were very much in a situation where anytime that we thought that there was an opportunity to trade anybody on our team that was going to make us better now or make us better in the future and maybe change the identity of the team, we would be willing to do that and today was that day,” Saunders said during Saturday’s press conference.

He acquired three talented players in the trade.

Let’s start with Wiggins. Wiggins was the most hyped prospect to come out of college since LeBron James. He was the No. 1 pick in a loaded draft and he can take over on both sides of the court. Yes, he’ll have to adjust to the NBA game, but Wiggins looks primed to join the Wolves. He told ESPN earlier this month that he just wants to play where he’s wanted. Well, he’s wanted in Minnesota.

“You are talking about a guy in Wiggins that since he was in high school, people thought that he was the best player to come out of high school since LeBron James,” Saunders said. “He has phenomenal ability. He has a lot of work to do, but I know that he is a willing learner.”

Then we move on to Bennett, who was the 2013 No. 1 pick. Bennett struggled during his rookie season, but he is a strong power forward who is a willing passer with soft hands.  Saunders believes he can recover from his rough season and that a change of scenery might be what he needed.

“We feel that Bennett has the potential. He's underachieved to this point but we feel there's a lot of factors that have led into that,” Saunders said. “We're excited about Anthony's ability to come in here with a clean slate, being able to work from the beginning and try to reach the vision and potential that he had coming out of college.”

And then there’s Young, the only player out of the three who has already proven himself in the NBA. Young is expected to start at the power forward position for the Wolves and will also help mentor Bennett.

“He (Young) was important just because in trading Kevin we were trading away,” Saunders said. “We really had no power forward with really any experience.”

These players are exciting. What should be even more exciting is that this is being combined with talent like Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic. And then there’s rookie Zach LaVine, who can jump out of the gym, Glenn Robinson III, Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng. It’s unknown where this team is going to be next season as far as wins come. We saw with last year’s Phoenix squad, that’s not always easy to predict.

What we do know is that the 2014-15 season will be an exciting one. Get ready, Wolves fans. The new age Wolves are here.

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